By Mitchell Boatman

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – The North Muskegon football team entered Week 9 needing a win to secure the school’s first playoff berth since 2009.

That meant the Norsemen needed a player to step up and lead the charge.

Chandler Edwards answered the call.

The junior running back ran for 321 yards and five touchdowns as the Norse pulled away from Orchard View for a 36-12 victory on Friday on the Cardinals’ home field.

“He’s a heck of a running back,” said North Muskegon head coach Larry Witham. “We asked him to come to play tonight. He certainly showed up big.”

Chandler Edwards on the North Muskegon running attack. Photo/Mitchell Dixon

While Edwards gets the credit on the stat sheet, he raved about the importance of his blockers.

“I’m gonna give all the credit to my offensive line,” he said. “Asa Poulin, Justin Edwards, Andrew Butzow, Jesse Ware and Joe Flynn. They carried it through. They kept pushing me.”

After missing the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, there was no way Edwards was letting the opportunity slip away.

“I knew going into the game that I couldn’t make any excuses,” he said. “I had to keep going. I knew in my mind I was going to persevere and I couldn’t let us not make the playoffs.”

Witham is thankful that his team will have another game.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “Our kids really rallied. It’s a great feeling to have another week. Hats off to our kids and the way they persevered.”

Orchard View’s No. 54 Andrew Puckett applies pressure to Norse QB Mack Young. Photo/Mitchell Dixon

While Brooks stole the show on offense, the Norse defense was able to hold a talented, athletic Cardinals offense to just 12 points.

“Our kids came to play, we had a great game plan,” Witham said. “We had our backs against the wall a couple times with some turnovers, and we limited the damage.”

Edwards got the scoring started by capping off the Norse’s opening drive with a 33-yard touchdown run with 5:59 to play in the first. The Cardinals responded with 1:31 left in the first on Jayden Day’s 4-yard scoring run.

A missed extra point left the score at 7-6, which held until halftime.

Orchard View recovered an onside kick to start the second half and took the lead on a 6-yard TD run by Day.

That’s when Edwards took over. On the next play from scrimmage, he ripped off a 57-yard scoring run to put North Muskegon on top for good. Edwards tacked on a 45-yard score, as well as two touchdowns from five yards out, to and push his team into the playoffs.

Now that they are in the playoffs, the Norse don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

“We’ve gotta take it one game at a time,” Edwards said. “We don’t plan on stopping next week. We’re going to keep working harder and harder and build on what we did here.”

“At this point, we’re just really happy that we’re dancing,” Witham said. “We’ll study over the weekend as to who we see and we’ll get prepared for next week.”

Day led Orchard View with 274 rushing yards on 28 carries. Owen Swanson was 2-5 passing for 18 yards. The Cardinals finish the season at 3-6.

Jesse Cooke was 2-for-6 through the air for 27 yards for North Muskegon. He also ran for 31 yards.